55 Questions Concerning My Book Habits

Masanobu @ All the Pretty Books recently posted her response to a questionnaire conceived by Lydia @ The Literary Lollipop. I loved the questionnaire, so I have decided to complete it myself.

1. Favourite childhood book:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It not only got me through many sleepless nights, but it served as my introduction to Roald Dahl and his creative genius. I attribute my love for literature (especially children’s literature) to Roald Dahl.

2. What are you reading right now?

Multiple books, as usual. LAnnonce faite à Marie (The Annunciation of Mary) by Paul Claudel, La Fortune des Rougons by Emile Zola, and Trinity by Leon Uris.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
A Poet Before the Cross, translated by Wallace Fowlie (an autobiography of Paul Claudel). I couldn’t find a French version so the English version will have to do.

4. Bad book habit:
I write in the margins of all my books – even library books. I always write lightly in library books and erase my notes thoroughly before returning the books. I don’t really consider this a “bad” habit because I learned how to read carefully through the practice of making margin notes. If I bought the books I care much more about their condition than if I merely borrowed them. Still, I don’t lose sleep over cracked spines and the like. My copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory no longer has a cover or a title page. I don’t mind it one bit; in fact, it makes me smile because the battered copy is evidence of how much I enjoyed reading it.

5. What do you currently have checked out the library?
So many many books. I will include the ebooks in my list. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (finished. review is forthcoming), Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI, LAnnonce faite à Marie  by Paul Claudela collection of novels by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Huit Clos  + Les Mouches by Jean-Paul Sartre (What can I say? Sartre’s stories are interesting even if I disagree totally with his philosophy.), La Nausée by Jean-Paul Sartre, Le poète et la Bible (The Poet and the Bible) Vol. 1 (Over 2000 pages of writings by Paul Claudel about the Bible! Not too theological though. More like autobiographical fiction inspired by the Bible.)

Clearly, I like Paul Claudel’s writings. I totally disregard the controversy surrounding his life and writings.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes! I love my Kindle. I can read books in the public domain for free as well as borrow books from my local library through Overdrive.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I will quote Virginia Woolf on this one. “I am reading six books at once, the only way of reading; since, as you will agree, one book is only a single unaccompanied note, and to get the full sound, one needs ten others at the same time.”

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes. Last year I probably read 10 books. I have already read around 40 books this year!

9. Least favourite book you read this year:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

10. Favourite book you read this year:
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (it blew my mind)

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I read very widely (historical fiction, crime fiction, literary fiction, poems, and plays) but that does not mean that I like reading outside my comfort zone. I generally avoid romance, and that includes well-written romance novels like the ones written by Jane Austen. I am a woman who tends to avoid literature written about women because I’m afraid that there will be stuff about romance, marriage, family, etc. in the books. I find so-called domestic fiction boring, but I also know that I am missing out on some great literature. This is a silly fear I need to overcome.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Anything that is well-written. I refuse to spend hours reading a poorly-written book.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I can read anywhere. I ran into a tree once and almost poked my eye out with a branch because I was reading while walking.

14. Favourite place to read:

My bed.

15. What’s your policy on book lending?
People don’t often ask me for books. I have no problem lending books to others as long as I get them back in a reasonable amount of time.

16. Do you dogear your books?
I used to but I don’t anymore.

17. Do you write notes in the margins of your books?
Yes. I always write in the margins.

18. Do you crack the spine of your books?
I try not to, but if I do I don’t lose sleep over it.

19. What is your favourite language to read?
French. I love the texture of the French language; it is at once elegant and aggressive. I also enjoy the challenge of reading in French. Although I read something in French nearly everyday I have not read too many novels in French this year. I am clearly trying to fix that this month.

20. What makes you love a book?
I fall in love with a book if I love the themes that are explored within.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If the work blew me away, I will recommend the book to anyone and everyone.

22. Favourite genre:
Fantasy and Christian Classics

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Victorian Romance and Sci-Fi

24. Favourite biography:
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? (And was it actually helpful?)
I have read a few self-help books but I can’t list any off the top of my head. Clearly, they weren’t very memorable.

26. Favourite cookbook:
I take all my recipes from off the internet. I don’t own a cookbook.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction):
So many but here are a few. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing and Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard (I really need to lead a read-along of his works. I once started a blog dedicated to his writing.), and anything by Joseph Ratzinger (yes, I was one of those people who loved the last pope)

28. Favourite reading snack:
Chips, ice cream. Basically, anything unhealthy.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience:
Hype intimidates me, so I tend to avoid books that get a lot of hype. That will change when I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I will tell you what I think about that book once I read it.

30. How often do you agree with the critics about a book?
I love reading criticism. I usually end up  having a running conversation with the critic. All of my reactions can be found in the margins.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I have no problem giving negative reviews. I am not a professional critic and my blog doesn’t have a gigantic following. I assume that if people follow my blog they do so because they value my reviews. It’s good to be honest with your reader.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
German. There are so many German (mostly theological) works I have read in translation, and the translators often write in the preface to their translations that German is best read in the original language. Evidently, it is a hard language to translate.

33. Most intimidating book you have read:
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. It was fantastic.

34. Most intimidating book you are too nervous to begin:
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I want to read it in French, but I have a feeling that it contains romance. It is not the length of the book or the language that intimidates me, but the subject matter.

35. Favourite poet:
Paul Claudel. I also love the poetry of Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll (why oh why do modern children’s books not contain poetry?)

36. How many books do you usually have checked out from the library at any given time?
More than I can read.

37. How often do you return books to the library unread?
Often.

38. Favourite fictional character:
Anne Shirley (finally, a woman), Ishmael, the Fox in The Little Prince, and Aragorn.

39. Favourite fictional villain:
Voldemort

40. Books you are most likely to bring on vacation:
Something relatively light. I probably wouldn’t take an epic poem with me on vacation.

41. The longest you have gone without reading:
I read all the time but not always for pleasure.

42. Name a book you could/would not finish:
Cinq Semaines en Ballon (5 Weeks in a Balloon) by Jules Verne. That’s one racist book.

43. What distracts you easily when you are reading?
The television.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel:
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The 1993 adaptation is one of my favorite films. I have watched it so many times that I could probably quote the whole movie.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation:
The Hobbit films. I am pretty sure Peter Jackson thinks he’s Tolkien. He’s not. Why Jackson thought it was a good idea to make three movies for a 250 page book is beyond me.

46. Most money you have ever spent in a bookstore at one time:
100 dollars

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Sometimes but usually I go into a book blindly.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?
I stop reading a book if it has unbearably objectionable material (extreme racism, explicit sex scenes, tons of profanity).

49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
I am a very messy person.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once they have been read?
I usually keep them, but I have boxes of textbooks I’d love to sell.

51. Are there any books that you have been avoiding?
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, The Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist by James Joyce

52. Name a book that made you angry:
Sula by Toni Morrison. Don’t get me started on how much I loathe that book.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I absolutely loved it.

54. A book you expected to like but didn’t:
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (I definitely didn’t expect the Mormon chapters)

55. Favourite guilt-free guilty pleasure reading:
I actually feel somewhat guilty about this. I read academic books all the time, preferring monographs written by professors to creative non-fiction. I also read tons of primary sources. Research libraries are to me what gold is to a pirate or a dragon. I am what people would call a nerd, but I don’t know much about computers, Star Wars, Star Trek, Anime, or Video Games. Because I read tons of literature I am always afraid that people think I’m pretentious. My knowledge about Medieval European literature or 19th century Christian philosophy is actually quite isolating. I love blogging because I can share my love for such things with others. However, I am not nearly as well-read as some other bloggers. There is definitely a Classics community and it has been so much fun to belong to the community.  I like the challenge of reading as I like the challenge of studying science. It’s just that I’ve decided to do the latter as my career. Insects are cool!

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9 thoughts on “55 Questions Concerning My Book Habits

  1. Les Mis does have moments of romance, but they are extremely poorly-written (in my opinion) and very much secondary to the main plot of the book… they’re there more as a catalyst than anything else. I understand your aversion to reading romance and domestic fiction (I’m only just starting to get over a similar aversion myself), but Les Mis is one of my favourite books and I had to let you know that it’s worth suffering through the romance to read the rest of the book! 🙂

  2. The three books you tend to avoid do not in the least entice me either!
    And you got a very good point on Peter Jacskon! Three movies on such a short books can raise eyebrows.Maybe he wants to make it more epic – or rather he is more at ease when working on a larger frame of time,that is,on (3 x 2hrs),a bit like he did with Lord of the Rings,even though that was trilogy.
    Oh and I must really get more acquainted with Paul Claudel! 😮
    Was fun reading your answers! 😉

  3. Loved reading all of your answers. I’d spent ages commenting on everything which caught my attention! Like Paul Claudel, for example – I didn’t know anything about him, so I looked him up and let’s say he led quite an interesting life. Or your Virginia Woolf quote, which I find spot on.

    I also get what you mean about science vs literature. I spend my days reading, but I don’t count monographs and research papers as real reading. Often wonder what would have happened if I had followed my other call. May I ask you what exactly you study about insects?

    By the way, whenever you need book recommendations for domestic fiction/literature about women, don’t hesitate to ask me. I love that subgenre with my whole heart, and let me tell you that while it is often conflated with romance/chick-lit (I hate that term, but couldn’t think of a better way to put it), they have little to do with each other.

    • I will definitely ask you for domestic fiction recommendations. In fact, I already have a question. Which female Victorian author (other than Jane Austen) would you recommend?

  4. Pingback: 55 Questions About My Book Habits | A Passion for Dead Leaves

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